2010 Midterm Report Playlist

We are at least a week past the halfway mark of 2010 already. I thought we would take this opportunity to spotlight some of the year’s triumphs before we look ahead to the latter half. And let’s turn it into a playlist while we’re at it. Sample tracks from each album can be streamed below. Here we go, in alphabetical order by artist.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Before Today

I didn’t think I would like this album very much, especially when I saw the press art that portrayed a man frenching a dog, but when I got it I just kept listening to it. They say it’s pretty lo-fi, but all I hear are bewitching vocals and catchy nihilistic platitudes. So they aren’t saying anything grand. So what?

[gplayer href=”″ ] Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’s Beverly Kills [/gplayer]

Broken Bells, Broken Bells

There was much anticipation for this collaboration between The Shins’ James Mercer and Danger Mouse. It is quite a pretty record that doesn’t quite stick to the ear canals as well as one might hope, except for one song, “The Ghost Inside”. That is a piece of work. It reminds me of Grizzly Bear’s “Two Weeks” from their Veckatimest album in that they are both such standout tracks.

[gplayer href=”″ ] Broken Bells’ The Ghost Inside [/gplayer]

Caribou, Swim

There’s a lot to like about this album, which some of us saw up close and personal last week. Perhaps the biggest compliment I can give this album is that I’m excited to see what happens on the next one. He’s won one Polaris Prize for the best Canadian album of the year and is in the running for another. And Canada has good music.

[gplayer href=”″ ] Caribou’s Odessa [/gplayer]

Dominique Young Unique, Domination Mixtape

We need at least one person on this list who can’t even legally drink. I’m glad it’s this one, a girl whose flow could strip the paint off walls. Production by David Alexander couldn’t be any peppier or poppier. Actually, the one I like best is not from the mixtape, but I’m counting it anyway. This one needs to be played more in the Shanghai clubs, although I’m not there all the time, so maybe they save it for the wee hours when endurance is flagging.

[gplayer href=”″ ] Dominique Young Unique’s Show My Ass [/gplayer]

Flying Lotus, Cosmogramma

Ditto to Flying Lotus, who needs a muse, I think. I want to see him with a vocal collaborator over the course of an album. A full-length collaboration with a sultry voiced siren would do him some good. This album, Cosmogramma, is all sounds and textures, rhythm and conundrums. It goes through your ears, right down your spinal cord, gets in the synapses, and fills them with static.

[gplayer href=”″ ] Flying Lotus’s Nose Art [/gplayer]

Gonjasufi, A Sufi and a Killer

I didn’t want to like this album. I didn’t want to put it on this list. But this one is a creeper. The Gaslamp Killer, who rattled the concrete of the Shelter earlier this year, did much of the production. This Gonjasufi joint, though, it’s a creeper. The music is quite minimal and the artiste’s voice grows on you like a fungus. This is heroin music for long-winded potheads.

[gplayer href=”″ ] Gonjasufi’s Change [/gplayer]

Janelle Monae, Arch-Android

People are making a real big deal about this album and it is fun, but I don’t think it is one of the best albums of the past few years, as some have said. It is exciting for a young musician like her to have a grand concept, to show everything that’s inside, and to work in so many different colors. This is another one that is long on promise.

[gplayer href=”″ ] Janelle Monae’s Come Alive (The War of the Roses) [/gplayer]

The Morning Benders, Big Echo

I believe this is a debut album by the band from San Francisco, but even if it’s not, who cares? This is a good album from start to finish with at least two tracks that are really good, one that is transcendental. I’m talking about “Excuses” here, people. Don’t sleep on it.

[gplayer href=”″ ] The Morning Benders’ Excuses [/gplayer]

Sleigh Bells, Treats

I’ve tried and tried to figure out how to explain this album and its sound. Every song feels like it’s breaking apart your speakers, the earth’s crust, and the very fabric of the freaking universe. Singer Alexis Krauss has such a cool voice; expressive and detached at the same time, cooing into the void. This is a great album to play in any situation, but very early in the morning and very late at night when you hate your neighbors is the perfect time.

[gplayer href=”″ ] Sleigh Bells’ Tell ‘Em [/gplayer]

Toro y Moi, Causers of This

Alphabetization saved the best for last. I don’t like this album. I want it to like me. I want it to pick me up at the school gate and walk me home. I want it to feel me up in the theater. I want to meet its parents and grow old together. Or maybe we’ll just move in together and, after a few years, slowly drift apart. I’m not sure. All weirdness aside, this is a great album, perfect for nostalgists and futurists alike.

[gplayer href=”″ ] Toro y Moi’s Causers of This [/gplayer]

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